Thursday, March 1, 2012
The #4 (20-11-1) BU Terriers head into the final weekend of the regular season looking for a strong finish before the conference playoffs begin next week. The opponent just happens to be the team that ended the Terriers' season last year in the HE QF's. It is also the same team that BU knocked out of the conference playoffs two years ago in the final night of the season. The Terriers have a chance to do the same to (12-15-5)Northeastern this weekend as they battle for the 8th and final conference playoff spot with UMass. There are plenty of headlines to go with the playoff implications. First, both teams will be celebrating senior night at their homes games. BU will be honoring Chris Connolly, Kieran Millan, Grant Rollheiser, Kevin Gilroy, and Ryan Ruikka Friday night at Agganis while NU will be celebrating their seniors Saturday night at Matthews.
Besides the seedings at stake(BU can finish 1-3 in the conference), Friday night will mark former Terrier Vinny Saponari's first return to Agganis Arena since he was dismissed from the BU hockey team for "conduct unbecoming of a BU hockey player". Saponari then returned to the USHL for a year while he attempted to find a school to take him. He first tried BC, a valiant effort for someone looking for revenge on BU but unfortunately, he is a dumbass and couldn't get through the "rigorous" academic standards for BC hockey players. Vinny then did what anyone with no options left would do... he went to Northeastern. This year he is tearing it up for Northeastern posting a stellar 6-15-21 line while helping NU to a last place finish in the Beanpot and 9th in conference. It will certainly be interesting to see how the crowd receives Vinny even though we have a good feeling it is going to be a loud round of boos and taunting all night.
Back to the game, the main areas where Northeastern has struggled this season has been special teams and goaltending. I don't buy the goaltending issue for this weekend as Rawlings always seems to play well against BU. The special team numbers are just ridiculously bad though. Northeastern is 19/140 this year on the PP for a whopping 13.6%. They have also allowed 10 shorthanded goals, which leads the conference. They literally are only a +9 on their pp this year as opposed to BU who is +39. In net special teams, BU leads the conference at +18 while NU is dead last with a -16. The statistic nightmares go on and on for NU, so I will leave it off there.
This is a huge weekend for both clubs as NU fights for the 8th and final HE QF spot while BU fights for a regular season title. BU can finish 1st only if they take 2 more points than BC this weekend. The problem is that BC is hosting last place UVM so that is unlikely without some help from our friends from Burlington. BU will finish 2nd aslong as they take atleast 3 points on the weekend no matter what Lowell does. BU has a 2pt cushion but lose the tie-breaker so it is a 1pt cushion. BU needs to take one point less than Lowell or greater to grab the #2 seed. Here is a percentage based break-down for the remainder of the conference. By the percentages, BU will be the #2 seed and play PC next weekend at Agganis. There is a reason they play the games though. BU never has easy games with Northeastern who pump us up as their "rival". It is kinda of a loose term but whatever makes Vinny happy, works for me. Cue the music!